We moved to Sydney from Melbourne before we had kids, so for over 7 years now we’ve been taking the little munchkins back to Melbourne regularly to connect with family and friends. We’re down there at least twice a year, so we like to keep our favourite Melbourne attractions on regular rotation. It really is a wonderful destination for a holiday with kids. These are the places that the kids would love to visit every time we’re there. The very best bits of Melbourne for kids (in no particular order).
9 best bits of Melbourne for kids
1. Collingwood Children’s Farm
It feels like a hidden treasure when you find all of these beautiful riverside paddocks and gardens surrounded by parkland within 5 km of the city. It is so removed from the hustle and bustle and has such a rustic charm.
It’s a wonderfully peaceful spot to have a wander around, feed an animal or two, milk a cow, collect the eggs or enjoy a terrific coffee at the open-air cafe.
Website – Collingwood Children’s Farm
2. Werribee Open Range Zoo
The beauty of Werribee is its accessibility. Rather than being a day’s drive away like Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, this is only 30min out of the city.
It is all about the African animals here and we love taking the safari bus through the grasslands to see them roaming around.
There’s a touch of African culture and plenty of play spaces for the kids.
Ideal for combining with a visit to Scienceworks if you’re up for a very big day, as it’s on the same side of town.
Website – Werribee Open Range Zoo
3. Studley Park Boathouse
10 min east of the city is this beautiful oasis of tranquility.
Feed the ducks, take out a row boat (or canoe or kayak), relax and soak up the peaceful bushy surrounds or go for a wander.
The food options are outstanding. There’s shelters, picnic tables and bbqs for DIYers, the kiosk for takeaway alfresco dining, the cafe makes a wonderful venue for Sunday lunch or the restaurant for a special occasion.
Over the years we’ve been to family bbqs, kids birthday parties, coffee catchups, leisurely lunches with friends and even a wedding reception here. It really is special.
Website – Studley Park Boathouse
4. Melbourne Museum
I guess the Sydney equivalent would be the Australian Museum, but Melbourne blows Sydney out of the water in this case.
A purpose-built modern building houses the most fascinating, hands-on, kid-friendly museum I think I’ve ever been to.
Some of our favourite parts are the dinosaur skeletons, the circular 3D cinema about volcanoes, the living forest, the playground and the children’s gallery with a fun outdoor area with skipping ropes, giant lego, hula hoops and stilts.
Website – Melbourne Museum
5. Puffing Billy Railway
Hanging your legs out the side of Puffing Billy is like a rite of passage for kids in Melbourne.
Situated in the green hills of the Dandenong Ranges, an hour east of the city, you can hop off at Emerald Lake Park and have a picnic or visit the cafe, or just catch the next train back.
Even though my kids are growing out of Thomas the Tank Engine, steam trains still hold a magical fascination for them.
Website – Puffing Billy Railway
6. Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium
While Sydney Aquarium is hard to beat, the Melbourne one has some wonderful unique aspects which make it shine. The highlight is the penguins. The kids could watch these gorgeous creatures swim and waddle about endlessly.
The brand new art aquarium is such a brilliant concept. The kids colour in their fish of choice and it is scanned in and they can watch it come to life in the virtual aquarium, joining all the other fish swimming around.
The crocodile is terrifying. At over 5m long, it is quite breath-taking to see such a monster up close.
Website – Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium
7. Healesville Sanctuary
This is the one that I would come back to every trip. Just to be in the beauty and peace of the bush with an excellent cafe on-site. It’s so tranquil here I find it almost meditative.
The highlights are the platypus exhibit, where you can almost always find this elusive creative, the bird show is magnificent and the health centre is fascinating. You can watch them treat sick animals live through glass walls and tv screens. The kids are transfixed!
The animal encounters, like feeding the kangaroos, are very affordable and make your visit so much more memorable.
Set amongst the vineyards of the Yarra Valley, it lies 1.5hrs out of the city. Ideal for combining with a winery visit or exploring the wonderful food and homewares options in Healesville.
Website – Healesville Sanctuary
8. Tram Trip
A transport adventure is always a great thing to do with the kids, so it’s fun to take any opportunity to hop on a tram.
There’s the historical dark red trams which do the city circle route if you just want to do a loop of the city, or catch a tram when you visit the museum or aquarium. Or down to the beach at St Kilda or Port Melbourne perhaps. If you’re there around Christmas like we were, go and see the magical Myer windows in Bourke Street Mall.
Website – Tram Trip
9. Melbourne Zoo
Melbourne Zoo is a flat, spacious zoo with stunning gardens and plenty of parkland for picnics and running around. It has some wonderful unique exhibits like the Butterfly House. Take off your coat and sit down in this beautiful heated environment and watch the butterflies land on your children.
The Orang-utan Sanctuary is specially designed so that you watch them from up high where they like to hang out. It is amazing to see them so close. I found their size a bit intimidating, but Alannah was fascinated (see pic).
And there’s some new interactive kids areas that will give us a good reason to visit again soon.
Website – Melbourne Zoo
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